How can charities beat the recession?

Charitable giving is , for the most part, highly discretionary. For many, even some regular givers, your chosen cause tends to get what's left over at the end of the week, or month.  For innovators in this sector this presents particular challenges at the moment:  Go for smaller quick wins or bigger long term programmes? Advertise more or less?  Approach exising supporters or recruit new people? 

NESTA is  working with Cancer Research UK on the Open Ventures Challenge to investigate one simple idea.  What if we asked people for business ideas rather than cash? 

Last night we had our first off-line meeting of the innovation community that we're building up on line.  The mulled wine and mince pies may have helped, but I detected a real excitement at potentially getting involved with this charity as an entreprenerial partner rather than a mere 'target' for fundraising.  

I hope there will be wider lessons for industry from this project – how to crowd-source ideas and get them piloted.  But for now I am hoping that we'll be able to stimulate some signficant and actionable new business models for Cancer Research UK.  We hadn't factored in a recession when planning this project.  But I'm very glad we're tackling this issue right now. 

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